For someone who likes to suggest he’s opposed to federal decision-making and in favor of more state control over resources, it’s certainly interesting to see Representative Steve Daines writing a letter to House Speaker John Boehner opposing state-specific solutions to managing wilderness and logging on public lands.
Mike Dennison summarizes the crux of the letter:
The July 11 letter, signed last week by Daines and 28 other Republican House members, asks House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to block state-specific bills to increase timber production, because the signers prefer a bill addressing the problem nationwide.
That’s right. Rather than working to help Senator Tester shape and pass a bill that has broad-based support in Montana’s environmental and logging communities, Representative Daines is backing a dead-end, one-size-fits all proposal that has almost no chance of passage and even less chance of meeting the needs of Montana. The self-appointed of “Less Government, More Jobs” is so much more interested in playing politics than governing that he’s proposing a big government solution that will hurt Montana jobs and threaten our wilderness areas.
And that’s not even the most craven thing about the Daines letter. Despite not having the integrity to communicate concerns or work with Senator Tester on his bill, Daines lacked the courage to even inform his Montana colleague.
Even worse, he won’t even tell the truth to the Montana press or public, suggesting that he “he hasn’t taken a position” on Tester’s bill. That’s right. Despite Tester having introduced the bill, the single most important piece of wilderness legislation in the state, in 2009, Representative Daines wants the people of Montana to believe that he hasn’t decided if he supports it or not.
His letter to Speaker Boehner makes it clear that’s simply not true, that Daines is nothing more than a legislative obstructionist, more interested in being able to using logging for politics than someone honestly involved in crafting a solution. The alternative that he really hasn’t made up his mind? Not even Dennis Rehberg was that incompetent or overmatched for the needs of the House.
Since Representative Daines won’t work for a workable compromise developed by Montana stakeholders, he should at least have the courage to admit it. I wouldn’t wait for that.
As a final note, this latest round of discussion about Montana’s wilderness has led predictably to a very narrow minority of the Montana conservation community continuing its obsessive focus on attacking Senator Tester’s balanced bill, inexplicably giving a free pass to Representative Daines, who has signed off on a Republican proposal that will “timber bill that would require every national forest to designate an area for logging, with annual timber harvest targets.” The Daines-supported bill will also make legal challenges to timber harvests far more difficult, and put the interests of the timber industry far ahead of the interests of protecting wild spaces. Montanans interested in supporting wilderness and public spaces should probably give their support to organizations that are more interested working to ensure our tradition of wild spaces and public access than groups more interested in waging war against everyone but the real enemy.